Everything Happens for a Reason. Does it Really?

burnt and broken heartedYou hear people say it all the time: “Everything Happens for a Reason.” But does everything happen for a reason? Or is it our job to give reason to it?

This saying, or idea, intrigues me. My logical brain (which I try not to entertain too much) views it as a tool for dealing with acceptance, although this tool only works when we choose to use it ourselves.

Most of us know you shouldn’t walk up to someone who just experienced some tragic event, be all optimistic and say, “everything happens for a reason dude.” You may get punched in the face for good reason.

In a sense, I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. Yes, I believe God reveals things to me or puts people and circumstances in my life, but it’s what I learn from those experiences that brings reason to them. It’s more a matter of faith; faith that no matter what the obstacle, I can get through it and learn from it. A faith that only comes from experience. Prior to developing this faith, I was constantly filled with fear and anxiety.

Before I got all spiritual, I was the erector set kid. If I couldn’t take it apart and see what made it tick—a control thing—it didn’t really interest me. And no way was I going to turn my will and life over to circumstance; let alone God or a Higher Power.

What I learned from my experience was to let go. Not just let go of control, but let go of everything! Every thought about what life meant, every fear of not being liked and ALL the stuff that comes with it; most importantly every idea I had about spirituality. Once I chose life, every decision from that point on was easy. It was suggested I work some type of spiritual program, so I did. My experience tells me that I’m a spiritual being—simply because it feels right. I feel more at home with my soul and self today than ever.

Did me hitting bottom and finding a spiritual life happen for a reason? I don’t know, and I don’t care. What I do know is the life I have today because I survived and learned about living a spiritual life, is what I had been searching for all along. And while I see many others like me not make it, it’s hard for me to tell their friends and family they died for a reason. I pray for them to have the strength to learn from their experience; to learn something they can pass on to others, and to learn they now have faith to walk through just about anything.

Maybe everything doesn’t happen for a reason; but rather it’s what we learn from the experience that GIVES it reason.

“Everything doesn’t happen for a reason; it’s what we learn from the experience that gives it reason.” – Click to Tweet

Everything Happens for A Reason is a Cop-Out

For some reason, hearing people say “everything happens for a reason” annoys me sometimes. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s a sense that they’re not taking stock in the significance of a situation or experience. Maybe I’m jealous they’re not more upset about a situation. Honestly, I’m fairly certain its rooted somewhere near self-righteousness.

Maybe the annoyance comes from the idea that people may believe that someone, or something would cause harm in order to teach us a lesson. Personally, I think that’s BS. I’m a firm believer in an all-loving God. I heard or read something somewhere that made sense to me. Either you believe in Love or you don’t. If love is pure and true, then there really is nothing else. There’s no hatred or evil, only lack of the presence of love. Suggesting rewards and punishment for actions and behaviors sounds more like marketing than truth to me.

I used to see people on TV after a terrible accident–maybe they lost loved ones–saying “everything happens for a reason.” I’d think, “You idiot, you don’t even know what that means… what’s the reason then, huh?” What they really meant to say is “I’m making up shyt to make myself feel better right now… I’m in denial.” But isn’t any idea or reaction (regardless of how idiotic it seems) that helps someone deal with a loss good? I think so.

Getting to the Place Where You Believe that Everything Happens for a Reason

Getting to a place of acceptance can be hard. On one side you have the concept that you’re not unique, and that everyone goes through similar experiences in their lives. On the other side, you have the concept that you need to seek help, talk about things, and participate in your recovery (from whatever it may be).

The most important thing about acceptance is you don’t have to like it. Accepting something does not mean I have to like it. It means I accept it to be real; I now have the power to do something about it.

On June 25th of 2010 my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Ten days later, on July 5th, he died on his dining room floor in the arms of my mother. We’re thankful he didn’t have to suffer the painful experience of terminal lung cancer.

An important part of healing is acceptance. A huge part of acceptance is humility. Something that helps me with humility is the simple idea that things in life happen around me, not to me. Honestly, to think that all this crap is happening to me is a pretty narcissistic view.

I don’t believe I’m taught a lesson. I believe it’s up to me to learn from life’s experiences and use it to make myself better. It’s my job to heal, not question why things happen. But it would also seem that believing every thing happens for a reason, does open up us up to the possibility of finding that reason.

If I am to believe that something happens to me for a reason (that an unseen or future event is coming which will be good for me regardless of the temporary pain I’m experiencing), then that would be accepting the concept of a force inflicting pain to instill a lesson. I don’t believe that.

Would you cause your child unimaginable pain or suffering just to teach them a lesson?

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Comments

  1. Josten says

    I agree with you that god does bring us to certain situations in life so that we can learn from them and become more than we already are. Great post.

  2. says

    Our mind has the habit of finding reason for everything, but the truth is every experiences in our lives are lessons to be learned. Never should we resist what is, instead we have to embrace what life throws upon us and find wisdom from it. :-)

  3. Nicole says

    I have been there – the whole control thing – still struggle with it at times. And for me, it was seeking God to help me let go and surrender it all to Him. He sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we may have eternal life with Him. This scripture alone just resignated through me and I, at that moment, put my faith and trust in Him, Jesus, as my Savior. Ever since this day (Feb. 2004), He has truly transformed the way I think and the way I perceive life. I still have a long way to go, but am thankful for Jesus.

    We could all sit here and entertain our thoughts (oh how scary that sounds), but I choose to be obedient to the Lord and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)

    I do agree that everything happens to us to either reveal something to us (whether it be sin in our lives or an experience to grow us stronger) or to bring us to our knees so we can see that we need a Savior and cannot save ourselves. John 14:6 says …Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    For me, I have found freedom in Christ. Freedom from the ugly thoughts and the lies that the enemy tries to deceive us with. John 8:44 – says Satan is the father of lies.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still have struggles and sin in my life. I choose to pray daily for the Lord to guide my steps, transform me and strengthen me. The Bible tells us we will be faced with trials and tribulations so we should expect it and consider it pure joy as the testing of my faith develops perserverance James 1:2-3

    We should be thankful for the experiences we go through b/c it does allow us to help others (as you do Jared) in sharing with them what worked for us.

    Sorry for typing so much. :-) I did enjoy this post.

    • Jared says

      Nicole,
      Thanks for the comments. And I agree that we should be thankful for the experiences we go through… the other option is to remain a victim. And a victim is a spectator in their own life. I start off everyday with surrendering, I ask “God, show me what you will have me do today, and give me the strength and willingness to carry it out.” Inevitably, each day God put’s something or someone in my path to test my sincerity and whether or not I meant what I asked for. Some day’s I’m better at recognizing them than others… But it’s progress not perfection.

  4. Nicole says

    Hey there. you are so right….it’s progress, not perfection! And what a difference it makes to put God first each and every day! Awesome jared!

  5. says

    Logic & science can argue everything has a cause and effect. (If you push a ball, it will roll, and into anything in its path). So, things do happen for a reason – it’s not just your imagination! Being able to look back, learn, grow, and realize the huge connection and impact you can have to everyone and everything in this world is what to me gives it the meaning.

    • Jared says

      Chelle,
      Great insight and for pointing out the simplicity of the science behind cause and effect. I should have put something about that in my post! Darn it.. ha!

  6. says

    Just found you via SherryGaba’s link on Twitter. Great blog! I will be coming back. It’s funny, I go looking for spiritual blogs similar to mine, and it’s a tough search, finding a blog that is still active, has something to say that is meaningful to me personally… Then I just let it go, continue on with my life, and it falls into my lap one morning. Lesson learned: Sometimes I have to make things happen, but sometimes I have to quit striving so hard and just let it happen so I can receive it gracefully. Thanks for your inspiration, Jared!

    • Jared says

      Craig,
      Great experience you shared! It truly does seem like a paradox in that most of my life I was searching for something… happiness, peace, serenity, etc. And I seemed to find most things when I simply ask for guidance and start looking within. Knowing that if I haven’t found it yet then I must not be ready, that I’m ready and have everything I need in this moment. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Nicole says

    lol…that really made me laugh. thanks for that. And I really don’t know why I just posted that. I was reading something different on a different site and posted in the wrong place.

  8. Nicole says

    Maybe I was meant to post that here. Sometimes that’s our problem. We let our thoughts get out of control when sometimes we already have exactly what it is we need. I know for me, my searching days are over. I found all I need in the Lord Jesus. This new life is truly an amazing ride. If you haven’t read the Book of John in the Bible, I challenge you to do it and see if you find something there.

    I’ll have to check out your blog too. I love reading about other’s life experiences and what they learn along the way. I’ve recently started one that I hope to write more too very soon. I’ll have to post the link once I get it going.

  9. joe says

    i think everything happens for a reason…but without the fuzzy ‘god meant it for a reason’ thinking.

    example: remember liam neeson….his wife natasha richardson dies of cerebral edema (or similar) last winter at mt tremblant ski resort while falling during her skiing….just a wrong angle…hey we’ve all hit our heads at times i’m sure: into a open cupboard door, …or falling, too. but due to a lack of velocity of angle or part of head hit, none of us suffered a cerebral edema….but that time when Natasha was skiing she did experience such….simple….just simple logic without unnecessary ‘god had a reason’ rationale….tragedies happen all the time….it’s what we do with that pain is what can lift us up or not…hopefully we have a good social support network to be able to do so and work with the pain….some of us do and can mould the pain into something positive (or not).

    • Jared says

      Joe,
      Wow, thanks for posting that comment, “it’s what we do with that pain is what can lift us up or not…hopefully we have a good social support network to be able to do so and work with the pain.” I really needed that right now.

  10. Nicole says

    We all have a choice in how we deal with situations that come our way. We can rely on social support or our own self, but the wonderful thing is, we don’t have to do it alone! We have a Savior, Jesus Christ who came so that we may be saved. He can carry you through. My faith is in Jesus Christ and he sustains me and never forsakes me. A true personal relationship with Him is what has carried me through many of my ‘tough’ times and not understanding why things happen as they do.
    A verse that comes to mind is Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
    and Proverbs 3:5-6
    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ”

    Not sure what path you are on or where you are looking for your comfort and peace, but I am praying that you will find it and be comforted by the Lord. Jared, I am so sorry for your loss and will be praying for you for the comfort and peace through this difficult time.

  11. Blue says

    After 5 years of a beautiful life with my significant other, I feel things are crumbling. I moved away for a new job, not far, but with her hours we never seem to see each other.

    She explains that she is growing in so many ways that she feels she is becoming a stronger, healthier, and more confident person. All of this would seem great if she weren’t also drawn to another person who is connecting with her and challenging her to grow. I appreciate her changes, but may lose her to this abrupt place in life.

    Her words echo that she loves me infinitely, but that she has no real idea where her life is heading.

    I came here looking for understanding, for guidance. I’m not typically a religious person, but I do feel a spiritual connection in life. When you walk into a room your intuition can make you feel what is happening before our conscious minds have made conclusions about what is happening.

    I want to believe that our possible separation is something that happened for a damn good reason. I just feel so hurt and lost, even our plans for marriage are up in the air. When the dust settles, I’m not sure where we’ll be.

    I appreciate the positivity and will seek the lesson I am meant to learn. I do feel a bit like a victim, seeing as I have no control over the events happening before me, and with no support to help me through it.

    • Jared says

      Blue,
      None of us really have any idea where we’re heading in life. All we really have is this moment and doing the best we can in it. What you’re describing has a lot to do with expectations; something I relate to well. It sounds a bit as if you’re putting your own happiness in the hands of another. That your freedom, well being, and happiness is contingent on whether or not she stays with you or you end up together. That she is growing and becoming a stronger, healthier person is a gift; something you deserve to be doing for yourself as well.

      It can be hard to concentrate on yourself at times, especially when you feel lost and unhappy without a certain person in our lives. Yet if we can learn to be strong, healthy, and loving towards and with self, that just makes the union between mates so much stronger and better. It’s like to flowers that are growing next to each other. They’re roots may touch at times but if they became to entangled with each other they would compete and thus strangle each other. Yet above they can blossom and become unique and beautiful within themselves and live together happily… Ok, I’m not sure that made sense but it was something I read once and made sense at the time.

      When my wife and I were going through a tough time early in our relationship (well, rather I was going through a rough time and not sure I wanted to commit), she encouraged me to go if I needed to; that she would be OK without me. That was different then anything I’d experience before; as in past relationships, the only time I really felt the other person loved me was when they were crying and screaming for me not to leave. So it really made me get to know myself (and seek counseling) and find out what I really wanted in life. I realized (much as my wife already had) that I WOULD be OK by myself, that I didn’t need her to be happy and that I was OK. BUT, that together, life was much fuller and more rewarding and that any great or sad thing I would ever experience in my life wouldn’t mean as much without her to share them with. But it took her being OK with letting me go that helped me find that in myself. Sort of like the old saying about letting something go… and if it comes back, it’s meant to be.

      Let life take you to where you’re supposed to be and not just where you’ve ended up. Let life teach you something about yourself.

  12. Nicole says

    Blue, I encourage you to look to the Lord Jesus Christ for peace and guidance. No matter what religious background you may have, I can promise you if you open your heart to the Lord, He will show you the love you need and give you a whole new perspective on things. God did not create marriage to end in divorce. He created it for there to be a unity between a man and a woman. Putting God first in your marriage is key and I know many many people that have ended in divorce and they all shared one common thing….no God in their life. And it’s more than just putting God first, it’s getting to know Him by reading the Bible and what His Word says. I promise that you will find answers in the Bible. This is my source of comfort, peace, joy, and everlasting life!

    Sometimes things happen to us to get us to open our eyes to the bigger picture. To get our attention on the things that really matter. I’m sorry for the hurt you are going through. I will be praying for you and your marriage.

    Many of us try to find something to fill that empty spot in our soul, but are never really satisfied. That could be where your wife is right now or even you. I can promise you, by my very own testimony, that the Lord Jesus can fill your need in your soul. even one that you may not think is there. I encourage you to pray and spend a few minutes with God. Just sitting there talking to Him. I promise He hears you. Get a Bible if you don’t have one and find out what He wants you to know.

    Jesus can restore marriages. First, we have to make Him part of our lives and really believe in Him. Takes faith. Not by our own works.

    Prayers are with you.

  13. Blue says

    Jared, I appreciate your insight. You’re very right about what you have said and I think reading over some of posts today really guided me towards a more positive direction. I feel more content that I have in weeks.

    So you know, I have dedicated myself to growing as a person. I have made 6 goals and I have already started some of them.

    1) Property Management Experience – Check!
    2) Finish my degree, even if I must complete it online. – pending
    3) Practice Yoga every day to train the body and calm the mind. – Check!
    4) Begin Piano Lessons for self expression – Check! (well…starts Thursday)
    5) Photography (take more pictures) to appreciate my outer environment – pending
    6) Begin a Raw-Vegan diet – 1/2 check! (need more recipes)

    No matter what happens, I will grow from this experience. That is my promise to myself.

    • Jared says

      Blue,
      I love your list! Amazingly, I have/had some very similar things on mine.

      1) Finish my undergraduate and graduate degree (check)
      2) Start Yoga (just mentioned to my wife last night that it’s time)
      3) Take piano lessons (I have the keyboard and purchased “Learn and Master Piano” DVD series but have yet to really start)
      4) Take vocal lessons (check)

      Currently, I would say my focus is on some other web projects I’m working on, enjoying my granddaughter, wife, and growing spiritually. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this thread. I posses some of the same beliefs as you… but then, I’m not sure I would call them beliefs. I guess I’m not really sure I’m to believe anything, that my spiritual life is always expanding, changing, and by boxing myself into a certain belief I limit the possibilities. I feel there is only love. That in any situation we are either crying out for love or expressing love. Thanks again for all your comments and I wish you the best.

  14. Blue says

    Nicole, here is my response to what you have said. I wrote it today actually, which is strange since I wrote it before reading your message, but it’s completely relevant.

    God: Religion & Faith

    Sacramento has really unearthed some deep questions I thought I had put to rest. I’m noticing that a great deal of people around here rely on Christianity or whole-heartedly engage IN it.

    A few times I have had to explain my faith or lack of faith, and I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to what seemed (to me) to be settled. After some thought I think I have a better idea of my current response to God.

    I always go back to my thoughts in philosophy. It helps remind me of the world I truly live in, which is the one I help create for myself. I was rarely awed in class, but reading the classics gave me insight into how I perceived the world, or in fact, how we all perceive it.

    My example goes like this:

    What does water feel like?

    I often laid next to the edge of the pool at my father’s house in Napa. I would dip my hand and arm in and out of the water. When the water hit my hand and I grabbed it, gripped it and felt it escape, I knew that my concept of what water felt like was based on the nerves in my hand, sending impulses up my arm, crossing again at the brain and processed – determined to be water.

    All of our senses are built to process information from the outside world, and direct that knowledge inward, to understand our environment. How then can we know the true world? What we experience is based on what our bodies are able to tell us. I can not know what water feels like, nor what the earth actually looks like or what a flower actually smells like, because I can only understand it by the senses I was born with, and not the object it-it-of-itself.

    It’s interesting to note that there is something else we are all capable of, and that’s an intuitive feeling of knowledge.

    When you enter a room where there’s a tense situation, you feel it first in your chest. Your body reacts knowingly to the situation and you feel the dread coming, and only after that does your mind fill you in on what’s happening. It’s the same place you feel pain when hurt by a loved one. It’s this part of me that I can’t wrap into logical thought or rationalize.

    There’s no magic organ that feels a deep inner pain. It’s because of this that I feel we are all more than our bodies, that our spiritual self is more aware and present, no matter how slow our bodies are to react.

    That leads me to my final thought on the subject. We are all humans and we can all agree based on our senses, what water is and is not. But eventually our bodies will decompose, and upon death our bodies, like a glove, will slip off and I think only then will we know God. Only then will we know water, because our body is an extension of our “soul”, without it we are free to experience what is.

    It’s because of this I can not follow organized religion. Spirituality exists in my life, and it’s so common that it also exists in the lives of all humans. It’s so simple, that we over-think it. Any person who has claimed to know what God thinks is in my opinion, quite mad. We all see through the common lens of the body and its faculties, we are restricted as such.

    So in essence, I can be intuitively sure that God exists in some form or another. However, as to my approach to God?

    As John Lennon said, “We’re all Hitler inside and we’re all Christ inside, its just to try and work on the good bit’of you.”

    Which is pretty much what I try my best to do.

    Side Note:

    This is why I think drugs are actually essential for studying the self. I’m not encouraging recreational / habitual use, rather use for transformational experiences. When you start altering the bodies functions, I believe you can experience different perspectives that will give you new insight about yourself or your world (difference in self / difference in world). In any case, always do so in a safe and educated environment.

  15. Ashley says

    I was JUST having a conversarion tonight about the saying “everything happens for a reason” and it annoys me also. I was saying how cliche and un-meaningful it can sound esp when you’re right in the middle of heartache and pain. I’m really glad I checked out your website. Nice to hear from like minded people. :)

    • Jared says

      Hey Ashley,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know the feeling. When I lost my father suddenly it was difficult initially to hear people say that, but fortunately I was able to accept that they were trying to help and be caring.

      Even when witnessing others go through hard times, they say that to themselves and I wonder if they really mean or feel it. Or are we/they just the child whistling in the dark pretending everything is OK? I think the point and goal of the process is acceptance, which is hard when we’re still in denial and shock.

  16. YOUNGSVILLE says

    Bad things in life do not have to get better, but they can. We have to work relentlessly to make them better. If you give up, it will never happen. If someone close to you dies, you have to put some effort into getting over the grief. If you lose your job (unfortunately nowadays) you have to put a LOT of effort into getting another one. If you want the remote chance of winning the lottery, you have to purchase a lottery ticket, or it most definitely won’t happen.

    • jared says

      Youngsville,
      Well said my friend. I have a great mentor who suggests setting a time period for grieving. I know that’s sort of hard to do, like when my father passed away suddenly. But at some point we have to make a decision to get better. Not letting the loss, regret, remorse, fear (whatever) define us. That once a certain period is long past, at that point we’re choosing misery. That’s certainly doesn’t apply to everyone or every situation. You can’t suggest to someone to “get over it” when they’ve lost someone. It has to be a personal choice.

      I love your lottery analogy. Can’t win if you don’t play!

      There’s just certain things we have to do FIRST in order for something better or different to even have the possibility of manifesting or happening in our lives. Like believing we can do something for example. Or if I have a fear of drowning and don’t know how to swim, but would like to learn. At some point I’m going to have to get out of the car or get near water if I EVER want to learn how to swim.

      Thanks for stopping by to leave comment. Best wishes to you.

  17. Margaret says

    Why is there gangstalking and that type of organized bullying? What would be the reason for that? Why are some people bullied their entire lives by police, firemen, city hall, social services, neighbors, landlords, bosses, coworkers, etc and it leads to suicide in many cases.

    • jared says

      Margaret,
      You ask a good question. There is such a thing as groupthink which causes people to think together a certain way and desire harmony rather than looking at alternatives. Or many people feel more powerful in groups rather than alone. People do things in groups they would never do by themselves. It’s sad sometimes but understandable for people to want to feel like they belong somewhere.

      My first thought was if someone feels they are being bullied their entire lives, they are stuck in a victim mentality. I like to think that things happen in life “around me” not “too me.” It’s a very narcissistic view to think that the universe is conspiring against me. That’s certainly not to say that some people get a raw deal and suffer because of some unforeseen circumstances that seem to continue to impede their happiness. I certainly had a period of time when I thought nothing could go right; getting fired from a job, losing a close friend, being dumped by a girlfriend, wrecking my car, etc. But in the end, I am responsible for how others treat me. The only real constant and continuous element in all of those instances was me.

      The world is full of people who have an amazing perspective regardless of their circumstances, they choose to see the good and learn and grow.

      It’s the idea of letting things in life take me to where I’m supposed to be rather than where I’ve just ended up. Getting out of that victim mentality and stop being a spectator in my own life.

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